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tv   RT News  PBS  July 28, 2013 2:00pm-2:31pm PDT

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>> funding for this program is provided by subaru. >> at subaru, we build vehicles like the rugged outback, with symmetrical all-wheel drive standard and plenty of cargo space, for those who pack even more adventure into life. subaru, a proud sponsor of "globe trekker." [captioning made possible by friends of nci] >> previously on "globe trekker around the world," justine shapiro traveled across america on route 66 and beyond, from virginia to arizona. now we join judith jones as she crosses the border into mexico, and we continue our journey south into latin america,
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the land of conquistadors, aztecs, and incas. >> human sacrifice, religion, greed, war, and torture have all played their part in the building and crushing of magnificent empires. >> bandits! >> a continent that is now a living, breathing mix of cultures thousands of years old.
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[crash] our journey through latin america will take us to pre-hispanic civilizations all but destroyed by conquistadors, to sites which witnessed the violent struggles for independence from spain and then revolution and bloody civil war. welcome to latin america, land of the legendary conquistadors, aztecs, and incas... and of course, tequila! i begin this journey at the epicenter of this struggle, in mexico, located between the united states to the north and latin america to the south. from chihuahua in the northeast, i drive south to the silver city, zacatecas, and from there farther south to the ancient toltec site of tula. then i head south to patzcuaro and to mexico city, built on top of the great aztec city tenochtitlan. finally, i head to cuernavaca, where the grand conquistador cortes retired,
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and end my journey at the magical town of tepotzlan. don't mess with me, ok? my journey begins in the deserts of northern mexico, where i'll follow the royal silver road, which stretches as far north as santa fe in the u.s. and south to mexico city. it was built to export silver north and south during the spanish conquest. apaches, spanish conquistadors, missionaries, murderers, merchants, and settlers have traveled its great length, and now me. i'm on a journey not just to see the country today, but to delve into its dramatic past. the apache word for dry, sandy place is chihuahua, and they weren't wrong when they named this desert area south of texas chihuahua.
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so nothing to do with a dog of the same name, just to clear that up. nothing much happened until the spanish explorers found silver in the 1600's, when the whole area became awash with speculators looking to make their fortunes. fortunes were made, but most of it was being sent back to spain. it took nearly 300 years of spanish plunder before the mexican-born spaniards had enough, and in 1810, a religious man named father miguel hidalgo rang the bell for the people to rise up and wage war against spanish rule. unfortunately, he was captured and executed a year later in 1811, right here in chihuahua. this was hidalgo's prison cell. he was kept here for 3 months until the day of his execution. it took mexico another 10 years before they gained final independence. hidalgo's last letter was to his captors, thanking them for their hospitality. he remains today the father of mexican independence.
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well, this is, of course, cowboy country, chihuahua. so i reckon i have to buy a cowboy hat. terrific? good? good? will it keep me out of the sun? more of less, huh? more or less. yay? nay? oh, it's a little bit curvy, though, isn't it? a little bit too much? mmm...not too sure. ok. this is it. this is it, guys. like it. like the color. like the shape. right. that's gonna keep the sun out of my face. ok, senorita. [speaking spanish] >> [speaking spanish] >> gracias. [bird screeches] now, before i delve deep into mexico, i'm gonna have my go at cattle herding today with my beautiful horse juanita. almost 300 years earlier, when conquistador hernan cortes conquered the country, he started building ranches or haciendas to manage the cattle needed to feed the new settlers coming from spain. trying to stop a rampaging cow
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on thousands of acres of ranch became a great skill. the haciendas would compete against each other in events known as charreadas. they became a national sport, and not just for the men. in the 1800's, the government gave massive tracts of land to middle-class mexicans to farm cattle and to expand the state into uncharted territory. but this land is occupied by indigenous and understandably hostile apache indians. i met pancho rentaria, who has lived in chihuahua all his life. he agreed to show me around an original hacienda now being turned into a museum. so tell me about this place, pancho. >> this place is called hacienda las carolinas, or quinta carolina. the place was built for mr. luis terrazas. >> who was he? >> he was...he was considered the richest man in mexico at the end of the 19th century. he was once owner of more than 2/3 of the land
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in the state of chihuahua. >> and what was life like here on the hacienda? >> well, it's...it's...it's... the haciendas here were like a...like a city. >> ok. >> see, there was a main house, for the...for the landlord and his family. but also there were houses all around, around for the workers. now, if you think about it, this hacienda would have... 50,000, 60,000 heads of cattle. and to take care of that, they needed many, many people. >> right. >> and to do all the work of the hacienda. >> so what did that used to be over there, then? >> the stables are there for the carriages. those are for the horses. there's the church on the other side. >> oh, beautiful. a whole little village here. >> yeah. like a city in the city. >> so he used to own all of this land from which point? >> from the point... it would be about 5 kilometers going that way.
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it would be about 30 kilometers going that way. >> he was a rich man, huh? >> a rich, rich man. >> marauding apaches attacked the ranches and were in turn hunted down by the ranchers. >> so these territories, the 4 states, became full of mercenaries, people that make their money killing apaches. >> but the real enemy was poverty, and it triggered the most recent episode in mexico's violent and bloody history, the mexican revolution. the divide between the rich and poor was huge. just a handful of spanish-born mexicans owned the land, while the workers were paid a slave's wage. one worker who lost his job took destiny by the reins and went on to become a mexican national hero. his name was jose doroteo arango arambula, otherwise known as pancho villa. >> he became kind of a robin hood. he was stealing cattle from the rich terrazas ranches to feed the poor people. >> this made him
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a very popular man among the impoverished poor people of chihuahua, and when the revolution began in 1910, many loyal followers were ready to join him in his fight against the government. at one point, he had over 40,000 soldiers in his army, famously known as the division of the north. he would rob trains, hold up banks to raise money for the cause. he even signed a deal with hollywood to film his battles. things turned sour for pancho when the u.s. started backing his opponents during the civil war. >> after 6 years of pancho villa being the friend of the united states, he got angry with the united states because he said that he was betrayed by the states. >> pancho felt betrayed and launched an attack in 1916. >> he went into columbus, new mexico, and attacked the whole town. and that was considered the only invasion the united states ever had in the whole history of the united states. >> the united states sent general john pershing to hunt pancho down and bring him back
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dead or alive. but he never found him. villa retired in 1920, but in 1923, he decided to get back into politics, and as a result was assassinated. >> so this is the car that he was driving when he was killed. his secretary was on the right-hand side, and 4 of his guards were in the back. >> right. >> they got shots from all over. pancho villa got 16 shots. >> and who killed him? >> nobody knows officially, but the government was involved in the assassination. he was 45 years old when he was killed. >> wow. very young. so this, it looks like, is pancho villa's head. am i right? >> yep. a few hours after he was killed, the consul of the united states in parral made this mask, and you can see a bullet hole here. >> oh, yeah. i didn't even notice that. >> that was the only shot that he got in the...
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>> in the face. >> it was a custom to do that at that time, to do that, to have a kind of a...a proof, but also a kind of memorial after somebody was killed. [men singing in spanish] >> and pancho, i hear this beautiful music. is this traditional mexican music? >> it's more than traditional. it's the music that came from the time of the revolution. these people that were fighters also, they traveled with the people. but at night, when they had time to relax, they got their guitars and started playing what they called corridos. corridos tell you the stories of what happened on the revolution, and they add the music. so every time you hear a corrido, you will hear... it can be a sad or a beautiful story or a story of a great battle. [singing in spanish] >> hola. un helado, por favor. [mariachi band playing]
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mariachi bands originated in the rural areas of mexico. when the haciendas fired many of the farmers, some wandered the lands, playing guitars and singing in public. and so a tradition was born.
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muy bien! gracias! gracias. i'm heading out of town, continuing my journey to the colonial town of zacatecas. it's the gateway between the dry desert north and the fertile regions of the south, and it was here in the 16th century that the conquering conquistadors would really strike it rich. first i'm going to check into a modest hostel for some basic refreshment and rest. carefully converted from a bull ring from the 19th century, the quinta real is one of the most unusual hotels in the world. when it was rebuilt, it won the coveted international architectural award. oh, my goodness. is this all for me?
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wow. that is one presidential suite. and look at this. look at my balcony. oh! overlooking the bull ring. the conquistadors introduced bullfighting to mexico, and it's now the national sport. the only macho displays that take place here now are probably in the bedrooms. it's a gorgeous cathedral. i think it's time to check the city out. zacatecas quickly became a significant colonial city in the 16th century, when the conquistadors, in search of riches, found minerals in them there hills. zacatecas is a beautiful city, but what made it really famous was that 400 years ago, the spanish discovered silver right here.
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artists still produce goods from the metal available, which they sell throughout mexico and the rest of the world. what a beautiful store. hola. >> hola. >> they use a mix of techniques taken from the early spanish settlers and the indigenous aztecs. at that time, all the silver that was mined, was that taken away back to spain by the spanish? >> [speaking spanish] >> ah, so the spanish took practically all the silver that was mined in this area, but it still inspired the artisans here in zacatecas to make some very beautiful jewelry. in the 16th century, spain held around $16 trillion in gold and silver, all taken from the territories known as new spain, helping the old country become a superpower. i'm going to visit
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the el eden silver mine that was operated for more than 400 years. the mine has over 10 miles of tunnels, and ramiro is gonna show me around. >> look around this place. this was one of the richest galleries a mine had. it was known to be called the silver sky. >> how much silver does this mine produce? >> well, they were taking out 5 tons of stone every day, and they were able to recover per ton of stone, like, 7 grams of gold and 220 grams of silver-- more than a kilo and a half. >> nice. but the mine exploited workers to a shocking degree over hundreds of years. workers labored, having to carry heavy rocks to the surface. at one point, 4 workers a day would die. the silver mining activities were so extensive that in 1550, there were 34 mines
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in operation. >> now you see here it's... it's quartz. yeah. >> oh, it's beautiful. >> and you can see it clearly over here. that's what native quartz looks like. you know, they didn't care about quartz, so that's why it was forgotten here, and they were only interested in precious minerals, like silver and gold. >> oh, right. that's why there's so much of it here. >> exactly. and also here, you can see this iron oxide. >> mm-hmm. so that's how they can tell there was iron inside. also they found copper sulfate, which is kind of like green and blue color. you know, they knew that inside it was, you know, silver. >> the next leg of my journey takes me to the ancient site of tula. when the spanish came, they overthrew civilizations that had been here for centuries. tula is the ancient city of the toltecs, thought to be built around 750 a.d.,
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when a group of nomadic hunters settled here and called it home. these pillars used to support a massive temple. they were down on the ground floor, but they brought them up here to show them off. they depict the god quetzalcoatl, a peaceful god who was also the king of tula here on earth. now, he has a butterfly on his breast and a sun on his back, and i wish he'd brought the sun out today. the toltec heyday was between 900 and 1200 a.d., when their empire spread to the pacific coast, chiapas, guatemala, the yucatan peninsula, and much of north and western mexico. the first known mexican civilization was that of the olmecs, who flourished in the southern central states of veracruz and tabasco from 1500 b.c. to 200 a.d., not to be confused with the mayan civilization, which reached its peak between 250 and 900 a.d. their empire spread throughout the present-day southern mexican states. and of course, there were the aztecs, who ruled the area in and around the valley of mexico from 1428 to 1521,
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when the spanish, led by cortes, conquered them. the toltecs believed that the gods fed them with rain and sunshine, enabling crops to grow. they would, in turn, repay the gods with offerings of blood, usually from nobles who would cut themselves. if there was a drought, they would sacrifice a human. this wall gives us a clue to toltec ceremonies. the serpent devouring the human skull is said to represent the cycle of life, and it's also related to human sacrifice. and when the aztecs arrived, they took this idea to its extreme. i'm now heading to patzcuaro, once the home of the ancient purepecha kingdom, which famously fought off the aztecs and remained fiercely independent until the spanish arrived in the 16th century.
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the purepecha are famous for 3 things-- fishing, fighting, and f... handicrafts. the purepecha were artisans who worked in stone, wood, and copper. when the 16th-century bishop vasco de quiroga arrived and saw their work, he devoted his life to helping them. this has encouraged a lineage of artisans which goes back generations. >> he says he's been working here for 55 years, and has it been from generation to generation? did your father and grandfather do this? >> si. >> so all your family? toda tu familia? >> toda mi familia. [speaking spanish] >> and then after, he's gonna teach his kids, and he's gonna keep it going in the family. always a nice thing. ha ha. although vasco de queroga did much to help this artistic community, it now seems that religious
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carvings dominate their work. the locals have told me there's a fantastic island that i must go and visit, and the only way to get there is by boat, and this is the time of day to do it, as the sun is rising, to get this beautiful view. it's hard to imagine today that the purepecha were fierce warriors who repelled the aztecs. unlike the aztecs, they left no written documentation about their culture. but their traditions live on. fishermen have been using these butterfly-shaped nets to scoop up small whitefish from the lake for hundreds of years.
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this traditional dance is performed to honor the fish and the fishermen. it's an important ritual. most of the islanders on janitzio are from indigenous descent, and they fight to keep their culture alive. i am the fish of the fish gods. the dance is performed at the base of another monument, celebrating a mexican hero from its battle for independence from spain. [reading in spanish] right then. ok. so this guy right here is morelos. he was one of mexico's greatest heroes because he led the final struggle to free mexico from the spanish in... uh...that was in 1811.
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the morelos statue is 130 feet tall, and if you're feeling fit, you can actually climb up inside to the top and look out over the lake from its triumphant fist. it's been a great day on the island, and what a treat-- butterfly fishing. i mean, who would have thoug incredible. and the fish was delicious. loved every minute of it. so it's nice to come back home with some music on the boat apparently. nice. it's my name! i love mexico!
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i'm heading to the nation's capital, mexico city, about an hour and a half drive from here. mexico city is a mighty and lively metropolis, growing continuously. its population is around 20 million, and 2,000 new migrants arrive each day. it has a thriving economy, making it one of the most important financial centers in the americas and the eighth richest city in the world.
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well, you wouldn't believe it, but mexico city has its own little venice, where you can discover the canals and the boats, and i'm gonna do just that today with the help of my guide, coral. and i think that's her just there. >> hi, judith. >> hola. >> how are you? >> very good. legend has it that the aztec god huitzilopochtli told them to walk the earth until they found an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake by a lake. seems like a pretty tall order, but 200 years later, they found it right here on lake texcoco. the indians before them had used an ingenious technique to build islands on the lake to grow crops. these were called chinampas. chinampas were made by putting plants and mud in big baskets on the lakebed. >> and with the roots, when the roots are growing,
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they are going to find the bottom of the lake. so you are not going to have a lot of water more. you are going to have roots, and you are going to have a lot of things. exactly. so they started rebuilding the lands. >> this created islands dotted around the lake, and the aztecs used this method to build the foundations for their city. it took around 250 years for the city of tenochtitlan to grow into a stunning metropolis, with a population of over 200,000 people, 4 times that of london at the time. it was from this city that the aztecs expanded their empire as far as the gulf of mexico and the pacific ocean, all from a few chinampas on a lake. unfortunately, being a warrior tribe, they also had made many enemies who saw an opportunity for revenge when the spanish arrived in 1519. >> i think the most important result they lost is because a lot of indians fought against the aztecs. >> oh, right. >> instead...try to keep
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together and fight against the spanish, no, they decide to support the spanish. >> cortes and his band of conquistadors were stunned by the beauty of this city on the lake. the aztecs worshipped many gods and in the center of the city was the temple mayor, dedicated to huitzilopochtli, god of war, and tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture, two of the most important gods. the aztecs believed that in return for good crops, they would have to give blood to the earth as tribute, and in order to maintain the order of the universe, human sacrifices would take place. these were known to have taken place before the aztecs, but they took it to new heights. and at one point here at the temple mayor, over 2,000 people were sacrificed continuously over 4 days. the city would have been
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awash with blood. i've come to a church nearby to meet an expert on aztec civilization, elizabeth baquedano. this is quite an eerie place, elizabeth. >> yes, it is. >> why are there so many skulls here? >> well, this is only a selection of the skulls that have been found in an offering that was excavated in the seventies, including some of the bones that actually belong to children. many of these skulls were found on skull racks, on platforms, where they were displayed. in here, what is interesting is that you can see a lot of skulls carved on stones, and you had these ideas of life and death that are so important to aztec thought, you know. there is a continuum.
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there is life, and there is death. so we can see the importance attached to the bones because bones really signify permanence. most sacrifices were actually killings from individuals who had been captured in the battlefield. successful warriors were able to keep the long bones and exhibit them as some signs of prowess, as signs of victory. important gods were personified, and special victims were chosen to represent the god. >> and can you give us a visual image of how a human sacrifice took place? >> uh...well, this was a very elaborate ritual. it was not just something that happened out of the blue. it was well planned, sometimes early in the morning at dawn. you can imagine the proper light, the music, the drums,
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the flowers, the incense. it was a very respectful affair. people were perfectly dressed for the moment. the individuals were taken to the top of the pyramid. when they actually came to the sacrificial platform, the victim was placed on this stone, and it was held by 4 priests, one for each limb. the fifth priest was holding the knife, the obsidian knife, and with this particular knife, he cut the chest open, extracted the heart out, and placed it in the vessel called the eagle vessel. then a further process took place. the skull was cut and placed in the skull rack. so...and of course, the victim was then thrown down the steps, and then it was picked up

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